Recent news from East Tennessee State University indicates that the university, in its desire to save money, is considering outsourcing custodial help to a private company. Area legislators soon will meet with university officials to discuss the possibility of outsourcing. The university would save the benefits costs for custodians, who are among the lowest paid of the university’s workers (adjunct faculty who do not get benefits are another underpaid group).
Custodial workers also are those most likely to be unable to afford higher premiums for medical coverage. More than likely a private company’s benefits not only would be more costly than coverage offered by state employee plans, but also would be more restrictive in coverage.
In recent months, the university has shown that it is willing to spend funds in other areas:
1.) “Greening” and “beautifying” the campus.
2.) Paying Phillip Fulmer the equivalent of a couple of months’ worth of custodial wages for “consulting” services on the return of football to the university.
3.) Paying six figures to a new head football coach for the yet-to-play-a-down football team.
4.) Paying at least two, perhaps more, football assistant coaches’ salaries. The new hires have been made despite an announced “soft freeze” in hiring that has left faculty and administrative staff positions unfilled.
It seems to me that the university has misplaced its priorities. It spends on plants and football, but desires to save funds on those who earn among the lowest wages on campus.
It was with great distress that I learned of Dr. Brian Noland’s plan to outsource the custodial staff at East Tennessee State University.
As a student in Appalachian Studies at ETSU, we learn how Appalachians have been marginalized as a people and have lost their voices to those with greater power. Unfortunately, I see a parallel between what I learn in the classroom and what I observe of those in power at the university.
The custodial staff are a loyal and hardworking group, who take pride in what they do. Many work primarily for the benefits, since the pay is poor by anybody’s standards.
I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some employees are eligible for food stamps.
A university is more than bricks and books — it’s people, it’s values, it’s ideas and it’s ideals determine the type of people its graduates are.
Does the university really want to mimic corporations who will do anything for the bottom line?
For the university to consider tossing these loyal employees aside like a dirty tissue while building a multi-million dollar football stadium is unconscionable.
By the way, I am the daughter and the widow of former custodians at the university.
Guns for blind
The Johnson City Press recently requested commentary feedback concerning whether states should be allowed to grant carry permits for guns to legally blind people in keeping with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which generally prohibits different treatment based on disabilities.
I am fully supportive of this philosophy that blind people can participate fully in life.
In as much that our state Legislature has established a concealed carry law, I do not see why we should exclude any of our fellow Tennesseans from participating fully in the benefits of this law.
I would perhaps, for the sake of public safety add one additional requirement to the law, that visually impaired people be required to use only weapons that are equipped with lasers in order to prevent any collateral damage.